“Here, have some of my water – says the man under the cowl – you clearly have not packed enough to get here.”
Setrani has no strength to object, and, from his curled position, half buried in the sand, accepts the water skin with a hoarse groan.
“Easy, easy… Careful not to drop it!”
Setrani peers from below at his saviour . A rover, from a city, thankfully, and not a nomad. Or else, he would probably be attached to a slave caravan, by now.
Still, a rover, a man so resilient to walk the desert, scavenging his sustenance and finding items to sell back at a city, is just slightly safer than a nomad, in his view.
Setrani nods at the man, and notices his sack. Only half empty.
“Thank you. Are you… going back?”
The man looks around. “Not yet. You are from Pantella, yes? I think I saw you there. Did they throw you out to die?”
A surge of pride in Setrani’s chest overcomes his caution – “What? I’ll let you know I’m an important person! I was sent out on a job! Not casted out!”
“Hah! Yes, the sand half burying you seems to disagree.”
The clerk deflates, but refuses to admit that he’s indeed having a terrible time at this mission.
The rover, gently pushing back his sack with his feet, continues – “No, I’ll have to find something more to sell before going to the markets. There’s a mine I visit when my runs are fruitless. But I don’t go there gladly. Too dangerous.”
He gives the clerk a look, calculating. “I could use the company.”
Setrani’s mouth dries up again, considering his options. How is his death more likely today? In the open desert, with the little provisions he has, or following this man he doesn’t know anything about to a, what has he called it? A mine? What’s a mine?
He wishes he had not argued with Harro, the guard that was accompanying him the last few days. At the time, to send him alone to those travelling merchants seemed a good idea…
How could he possibly know they were cannibals?
Besides, the man in front of him is not a nomad, so there is that, even if there’s no guarantee that he would not use him as sandcrawlers’ bait. The idea hits Setrani: what is unthinkable inside a city wall is very possible out here. He’s really new to these outlandish rules, but he’s learning.
And if the rover would act funny, he still could probably run away. Maybe with his provisions…
The man awaits an answer.
What are the clerk’s options? Whatever he chooses, he hardly will be able to retrace his steps, and the night, the very short night is coming, with all the fanged things that live in it.
Setrani must choose.